Vi­ral video shows SARS men tor­ture, strip ar­ti­san naked

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Sam­son Fo­larin

Avi­ral video has shown that some op­er­a­tives of the Spe­cial An­tirob­bery Squad, Rivers State Po­lice Com­mand in­deed bru­talised a me­chanic, Lucky Joseph, in the Choba Ex­ten­sion, Obio Ak­por Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state.

The state po­lice spokesman, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, in his re­ac­tion to PUNCH Metro story on Mon­day, had cho­sen to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tion that the po­lice­men had hemp on them, say­ing it was “an af­ter­thought.”

He added that he was not aware of the tor­ture.

But the video, which had been trend­ing since Thur­day, showed three po­lice­men beat­ing up the 38-year-old.

In the video, while one slammed him re­peat­edly with a cut­lass, an­other was seen open­ing a tear gas canis­ter in his face, while the third held him down.

The vic­tim’s trousers were pulled down, ex­pos­ing his pri­vate parts.

The as­sault went on un­til two men in­ter­vened to­wards the end of the one minute video.

The res­i­dent who posted the video on the In­ter­net said the po­lice­men col­lected N30,000 bribe be­fore re­leas­ing Joseph.

He said, “So, I was go­ing to act like this never hap­pened 10 min­utes ago. But my in­ner man won’t let it slide. Some men of the SARS pulled up my street around the Univer­sity of Port Harcourt and car­ried out their nor­mal pocket search. Af­ter ha­rass­ing the boys on my street, they picked Lucky (Joseph), who is well known by all. I guess they didn’t find any­thing on him but a phone. Guess what they asked for, the re­ceipt. Who car­ries that around? He laughed and the re­ply to his laugh­ter was a slap.

“They started beat­ing him up and... stripped him naked. I felt so bad for him that my legs started shak­ing when one asked them to shoot his leg be­fore some el­derly men pleaded with them. Af­ter all these, they ex­torted N30,000 and they left him. If his crime was that enor­mous, why not take him to the sta­tion? Power cor­rupts, but ab­so­lute power cor­rupts ab­so­lutely. These men need to be checked. Please let’s stop this from hap­pen­ing to­mor­row. It’s not you to­day; it may be your brother, son or fa­ther to­mor­row.”

The vic­tim, how­ever, said the tor­ture had noth­ing to do with a phone re­ceipt, adding that the po­lice­men beat him up af­ter he re­fused to en­ter their op­er­a­tional ve­hi­cle.

He said, “My boss had paid my salary into my brother’s ac­count be­cause I couldn’t ac­cess my ac­count num­ber. I de­cided to buy a new phone to avoid this in the fu­ture. I went to a bank to with­draw some money and was re­turn­ing when the po­lice­men held me.

“They said they wanted to search me and I told them to hold on and al­low me to search my­self be­cause the SARS men in our area have the habit of plant­ing all kinds of ex­hibits on peo­ple. Af­ter they searched me, they found my hand­ker­chief. They wanted to re­turn it when I asked them to hold on. It was while we strug­gled that three hemps fell

from their pock­ets.

“They beat me up with a cut­lass and opened a tear gas canis­ter in my face. They pulled me with my man­hood and said I must fol­low them.”

He said some res­i­dents later in­ter­vened and begged the po­lice­men, who took N30,000 be­fore re­leas­ing him.

Joseph told PUNCH Metro on Mon­day in Pid­gin English that he had yet to re­cover from the tor­ture, say­ing he had been go­ing to a hos­pi­tal for treat­ment.

While seek­ing re­dress for the as­sault and pro­tec­tion from vic­tim­i­sa­tion, he said he could recog­nise the three po­lice­men who beat him up.

“They were led by Thankgod, who lives in my area. I have been in­ca­pac­i­tated and I have spent N27,000 on hos­pi­tal bills. Please don’t let me suf­fer in vain,” he added.

When con­tacted, the Force Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Mos­hood Ji­moh, promised to call back our cor­re­spon­dent, but had yet to do so as of press time.

Also, the Head, Po­lice Com­plaint Rapid Re­sponse Unit, Abay­omi Shogunle, could not be reached for com­ment on the in­ci­dent.

• Ahmed

Pho­tos: File

• Rivers State CP, Zaki Ahmed; screen grab of the at­tack

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